In the past century, humans have become dependent on the luxuries that science and technology have provided for us. Things like, automobiles, mobile phones, televisions and even housing have become part of our necessity for living, but these have a devastating impact on the environment as well as some of the world’s inhabitants, humans and animals alike.
Human activity such as, overfishing, overpopulation, deforestation and carbon footprint, can be directly linked to the destruction of our environment, undrinkable water, soil erosion and poor air quality. According to recent research conducted by the United Nations intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the world is headed for a ‘climate catastrophe’. It is becoming ever more important that the younger generation of today’s society understand how the environment has changed and what they can do to help prevent any further damage.
Research has shown that younger children love playing outdoors as they experience new sounds, sights, textures and smells. Exposure to nature provides countless educational benefits, opportunities for discovery, creativity and problem solving.
To ensure the continuation of these amazing opportunities for children we must ensure they understand the significance of environmental preservation.
Plastic bottles in the ocean
Human impacts on the environment
Below are only a few of some of the most sever environmental issues of today, which are simple for children to follow in the effort to save our environment.
E-waste or electronic waste, includes any type of electronic device from plugs, laptops, phones, televisions and game consoles to radiators, kettles and microwaves.
This is a vast problem, especially for our generation who are dependent on these appliances. The UK is currently one of the largest producers of household e-waste in the world.
When we decide to discard our devices as they are broken or they are simply unwanted electronics, over 80% of them end up in landfills which leads to toxic wastes like lead and mercury to seep into the soil or water harming the environment around it and rendering it inhabitable. Furthermore, many electronic contain valuable non-renewable resources including gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and cobalt, and without recycling these devices we are wasting valuable materials.
How can we prevent this?
Over 80% of children aged 5 to 17 have a screen-based device and there are multiple steps the younger generation can easily follow to ensure the reduction of e-waste and the waste of resources; these are as follows:
- Postpone upgrading your devices for as long as possible.
- Find any opportunity for reusing items instead of buying new.
- If items are broken or damaged, return it to the manufacturer for repairs.
If items are fully dysfunctional take them to a certified e-waste recycling facility so they are able to discard of it without causing further damage to the environment.
Unlimited, clean water is taken for granted in certain place, but the lack of safe water is a growing issue in many parts of the world. The overuse, pollution and changing weather patterns coupled with poor management and lack of infrastructure has led the globe into a mutual concern about the accessibility of fresh water.
Less than 1% of the worlds water is safe for people to use. Water Sense gives some great tips on how children can help towards the effort of water conservation.
- Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth. This can save 4 to 8 gallons of water.
- Teaching children to take shorter showers or less baths.
- Teaching children about water saving gardening.
Half of the world’s plastic produced each year is single use plastic, these are materials that we throw away within minutes of using them. The definition of plastic pollution is any type of plastic that ends up in the environment which is incredibly harmful to all living things, as well as their habitats.
As much as 12 million tonnes of plastic waste is put into the oceans every year, and scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic waste in the sea than fish if we do not change our ways.
Teaching children the dangers of single use plastics will provide them with the knowledge to think smarter and use re-usable plastics to help save the environment. Here are some pointers that teachers and or parents can give to children:
- Teaching the difference and environmental effects of single use plastic and reusable plastic.
- Avoiding all sorts of disposable materials like plastic cups, tissues etc.
- Teaching the different types of bins and where to put certain items.
- Teaching different and creative ways of recycling and reusing like turning old jam jars into glasses or saving a finished loo roll for your child’s next art homework.
Teaching the younger generation about the worldwide environmental concerns, can ensure a proper awareness of cause and effect as well how sustainability can be achieved and maintained. Environmental education is much more than nature, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has defined it as a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem-solving, and take action to improve the environment.
The family home is where many parents begin environmental awareness, however as soon as children are old to attend school, their environmental education is likely to begin.
Primary education is undoubtably the most important stage of a child education, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Teachers and parents should take these first years of education to teach the younger generation about the significance of the environment, and deepen their understanding of ecological decisions and make these choice and unconscious standard practice.
As well as becoming environmentally aware, and children hold the fate of the world’s eco system, environmental education promotes critical thinking skills as well as creative thinking and inspiration for children to become more involved with their communities. There are countless ways in which schools or parents are able to teach the younger generation about the environment for all types of learning methods.
Lead by example. Do as you wish your child or student to do by showing children Thebes ways to be environmentally considerate.
Have more outdoor time. Playing outdoors open up children to different senses and learning to enjoy nature is the first step into ensuring they care about it.
Teach children to use the appropriate receptacle for their waste. Having different coloured bins, with pictures and fun elements to them can help make sure that children retain the different uses of different bins.
Give them chores or daily tasks. Small games and or small daily tasks can help build a sense of fun around recycling or reusing.
Work together on an eco-friendly project. Create a compost with your child or student and teach them the importance of recycling and reusing food and garden waste.
Beach clean-ups. Struggling for things to do during the weekend or school holidays? Beach clean ups are a simple and fun activity to show children what they can do to help and what litter they should not be leaving on the floor.
Donate. Donating toys or clothes to others makes children aware of other who may be in need and saves unwanted toys or clothes from being thrown into a landfill.
Environmental campaign at Little Lives UK
Children are the future. Yet with the current climate crisis it is becoming more important that we work on ensuring there is a future left for them.
Our Environmental Campaign focuses on educating children on nature and the environment around us. Our aim is to teach children about the damage we do to the planet and how they can help, through showing them how to live green, the importance of recycling and being environmentally considerate.
How are we doing this?
We are doing this through workshops that will take place in local communities. In outdoors spaces we will arrange litter picks, community garden projects and other environmentally positive activities which focus on taking action.
Why are we starting this?
We feel it will be beneficial to children both physically and mentally. We already have a mental health campaign due to how prevalent mental illness is within children. Being outdoors can be very beneficial to mental health, according to Child Mind, it can:
- improve your mood
- reduce feelings of stress or anger
- help you take time out and feel more relaxed
- improve your physical health
- improve your confidence and self-esteem
- help you be more active
- help you meet and get to know new people
- connect you to your local community
- reduce loneliness
- help you feel more connected to nature
- provide peer support.
Through our environmental campaign we want to help children enjoy the outdoors whilst being educated on its importance.
Not only this, but with the current climate crisis it has never been more important to take action. Since 2001, we have experienced 19 of our hottest summers and this is only going to get worse. So much needs to be done and we believe that educating children on how to look after the planet and is part of this.
Who do we want to help?
As a children’s charity we focus on children and young people and so this project will benefit them. But there will also be a broader value to the environment and all the species which inhabit it!